Verbal sparring at Wapak council meeting

First Posted: 4/21/2014

WAPAKONETA — Wapakoneta Safety Service Director Bill Rains defended Mayor Rodney Metz at Monday’s council meeting over an apparent tongue-lashing he encountered at an earlier council meeting.

At a council meeting earlier this month, councilors James Neumeier and Rachel Barber questioned the mayor concerning several complaints and questions that they reported hearing from several residents. The complaints concerned the construction of the replacement of the southwest sanitary sewer in the city.

“We had several reports from residents that said people came in and started work and they had never been notified,” Neumeier said. “We were under the understanding that this had been taken care of as far as the easements. We realized we needed easements for this project four years ago and we have been collecting for it for three years. Our constituents were finding out about it when they came home and someone was in their yard.”

Rains was absent from the meeting two weeks ago and the questions all were aimed at Metz. Some people at the meeting took the questions as an assault at not getting things done, while others said they were just asking questions because residents had inquired about what was going on.

Rains addressed the council that he thought the mayor was treated unfairly, which sparked a brief debate between Neumeier and Rains.

“I don’t believe you should be attacking my mayor like that,” Rains said.

Neumeier said he did not believe the mayor was mistreated in any way.

“I don’t believe he was mistreated. We just asked him questions.”

“He was given a bunch of grief about nothing,” Rains said.

“You call this nothing,” Neumeier responded.

Council President Steve Henderson threatened to pound his gavel and call for order, and conversation became more civilized.

When asked what was said that made Rains or the mayor feel that a verbal attack had taken place at the earlier meeting, Neumeier said “I have no idea. We were asking questions of something we had been led to believe had been taken care of.”

Metz reported that while there were reports that several residents had not been notified of the impending easement and right-of-way work, he said he had only been informed of who one of the residents were. Metz provided a letter signed by Rains notifying residents of the work. The letter was dated April 25, 2011, and had Rains’ signature. He also supplied a list of eight residents who have scheduled appointments of the work and five others who have not responded.

The $30 million project is about halfway finished and slated to be substantially completed by the end of this year.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance for construction work around the school area on Redskin Trail to ensure safe routes.

The project is in its third phase and is part of Ohio’s Safe Routes to School program. Phases one and two were completed in 2012 and 2013. Rains said abotu $500,000 of upgrades are made each year during each phase.

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